I Can’t Believe How I’m Flying From New York To LA…

Filed Under: Other Airlines, Travel

In about a week I need to get from New York to Los Angeles. I’m finishing up one trip, and need to position for my next big trip.

Logically I could have just booked a ticket on American in economy and hoped for an upgrade. Then again, upgrades between New York and Los Angeles can be really tough, and I’d like to avoid a 6hr30min flight in economy, if possible.


I suppose I could book one of the way off peak flights. For example, American now has a 10:30PM flight from New York to Los Angeles, arriving at 2AM. I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself if I took that flight, given that I usually get up at 4-5AM, so by the time I got to a hotel and fell asleep, it would be time to wake up. Is it worth taking an inconveniently timed flight in order to get a better shot at an upgrade?


But what’s the fun in just taking a sane, direct flight, when you can be crazy? Okay, maybe it’s not as crazy as Tiffany’s itinerary from Los Angeles to New York via Dublin and Frankfurt, but it’s certainly not normal either.

Well, PhilippineĀ Airlines now operates a flight between New York and Vancouver, which I’ve been meaning to take. They have business class fares of $440 one-way, which is cheaper than just about any other transcon business class fare you’ll find.

There’s only one slight problem — the flight departs New York at the ungodly hour of 12AM, and arrives in Vancouver at 3AM. That’s just a crappy time, no matter how you slice it.

But I need to get to LA that next day, so rather than spending a night in Vancouver, I’ll be taking a 7AM connection to Los Angeles, getting in at 10:30AM.


I can’t decide whether that four hour layover in Vancouver will be brutal (given that it’s from 3AM until 7AM after an oddly timed flight) or like any other (given that 3AM isn’t that far off from when I usually get up), but I’m now “all-in.”

The ticket from Vancouver to Los Angeles cost $100 on American, so in the end I’m paying $540 for the entire trip in business class. That’s cheaper than any other business class option, though just a slightly more exhausting and longer routing. šŸ˜‰

But what’s the fun of a direct flight anyway?

On the plus side, I’ll finally be able to review Philippine Airlines, which has been on my list for a while. I’m hoping I get one of their two newest 777-300ERs, which features fully flat beds in business class. That way I’d at least be able to get some real sleep. Unfortunately I struggle to sleep in angled seats, which their older 777s feature.

Has anyone taken Philippine Airlines’ business class between New York and Vancouver yet?

  1. I’m taking a similar route next week to try out CX 777 business class. Going JFK-YVR on CX and then booked a Delta First Class ticket from YVR-LAX.

  2. So you’re gonna do a double immigration check at YVR? Me thinks there’s no “neutral zone” there for US connections from a US flight. Why don’t you go to American Airlines newest [and crappiest] hub at PHL? Or do the usual joke 737 connection at ORD or elsewhere? CX goes to YVR too.

    Once I flew AS from SEA to LAX, and it was a much “longer” flight than expected.

  3. I’m doing this flight in August the other direction. Also hoping for the updated seats (albeit much less important on a day flight) and looking forward to your review!

  4. Also did that kind of route to experience the amazing CX F before my QF F from LAX. You do have to go through immigration out of the airport and the go back in. From departs the CX to get on the AS morning 7am flight, it wasn’t that bad knowing you probably would be in front of the check-in counter around 4:30am and watch 2 episodes of whatever and you’re about to board the next plane. šŸ™‚

  5. So it’s a red eye, and you get a business class seat. I used to take a coach redeye every week. At least you then have another 3+ hr flight following to get another nap. Not bad…

  6. It’s an illegal connection. Even on a different airline Canadian immigration will be very interested onto what your doing since you can’t fly between 2 US cities via Canada.

  7. I flew SJC-YVR-LAX successfully (with an hour connection no less) when I had my Penang flights earlier this year.

    Step 1 is to avoid checked bags.

    Step 2 is to very carefully follow the signs at immigration. There’s a US connections offshoot on the upper floor which doesn’t even put you on Canadian soil.

    That said, no clue if it’s in effect at 3am. You may just need to enter Canada and get some poutine after all.

  8. @ Ryan — There’s nothing illegal about it. Cabotage only applies if you’re booking a single ticket. I’m going to enter country (since there’s no sterile transit from US to Canada to US when flying those airlines), so I’m not violating any rules. That’s not to say immigration won’t be interested, as they love questioning me in general.

  9. Yeah. I’m just saying they will be interested. They questioned me for 30 minutes (same question over and over ) because they couldn’t understand why I flew EWR-YUL-ZRH when there are non stops to ZRH from New York. I explained I was on a mileage ticket and then they started asking how I got so many miles. It’s always pretty ridiculous at the Canadian border . And I was in the transit line !!

  10. I flew something similar 2 weeks ago. I redeemed 30k AA miles for Cathay flight JFk-YVR. Worst part of that flight is Cathay flies out of the AA terminal at JFK now. So only had crappy Admirals club for a lounge.

    I spent 2 days in Vancouver and flew Delta to LAX via Seattle for about $220 in business so I could use the new sky club in Seattle

  11. Sounds like a great route! I suspect you will get some odd questions by CBSA, but what else is there to do at 3am?? Have some fun with it. I always get the weirdest questions – even as a Canadian. Last time I went through I was asked what I did for work, why I wasn’t at work at that moment, and how much income tax I paid (seriously, who would know the answer to that).

  12. wow, such a crazy, crazy routing, I can’t believe this its so crazy!!!! Even if I had booked it myself because I regularly book crazy bookings for my job, I still wouldn’t believe it, that’s how crazy it is.

  13. I do know of a true fool who would drive 3 hours from Seattle to YVR, including dealing with the land crossing, just to fly CX F on YVR-JFK

    He’s one of those so spoiled he can’t deal with flat bed in business class.

  14. Immigration at YVR to enter back into the US doesn’t open til around 4:35am. Agents show up at 4:30 but generally take a few minutes to get settled. There can be a big line by that time, especially if you don’t have Nexus. That said, longest line at the airport at that time of day tends to be Starbucks (inside security).

  15. I have flown London City Airport to Amsterdam, Waited 2 hours in Amsterdam and flew to London Heathrow Airport to catch connection to Dallas, waited 13 hours at DFW and took plane to HNL šŸ™‚ return flight for Ā£300

  16. I’m so excited for this review! It would be so cool to finally see what you think about Philippine Airlines, and at least you don’t have to fly all the way to Manila to experience it! šŸ™‚

  17. As crazy as these flight times sound, they’re actually great if you’re on eastern time. I’d much rather fly from midnight to 6 am my time than fly from 9 pm to 3 am on the cathay flight.

  18. @Steve – there’s a Tim Horton’s after security in the US departure area, so why would anyone ever want to go to Starbucks? What’s more Canadian than coffee and Timbits?

  19. We’re booked on PR 127 and 126 in August R/T JFK-YVR. How canI kn ow if these flights will be on their new 777-33=00s?


  20. @CraigTPA – well said! I’m sure it’s because most Americans are just comfortable with Starbucks but honestly there’s no reason to stand in that line while you can get your coffee and timbits with minimal line (and I recall them having a drinks only line if you just want coffee). That’s what I always do at YVR

  21. Wouldn’t the problem in Vancouver be getting from the arrivals side to the departures side in the middle of the night without going through immigration?

    Heathrow can handle that without a problem, through dedicated transit routes, but Vancouver is a lot more provincial.

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